Anybody else find it hard to believe 2018 is almost over? Looking back at some of the year’s major events and accomplishments, I’m reminded of the advice/consolation parents often hear: the days are long, but the years are short. Seems about right.
2018 started with democracy in action. I helped appoint two state senators, Sine Kerr and Rick Gray, who have strong ties to the West Valley and understand how to make a practical difference for the diverse needs of District 4.
Rick and Sine were huge assets in passing a state budget that moves Arizona forward while also freeing Maricopa County of many of the financial burdens passed onto us since the Great Recession. One major cost has been paying 100 percent of the salaries of Superior Court judges even though every other Arizona county splits the cost of those salaries 50-50 with the state. Rick helped convince his colleagues that singling out Maricopa County to pay more just because of our size isn’t fair. By FY 2021, we’ll pay the same as all the others, which will free up money for other priorities.
The special election for Congressional District 8 went smoothly given the time constraints, and I was pleased the recorder’s office opened enough polling places so people who wanted to vote in person could easily do so. Of course, the August primary election didn’t go as well, so the board of supervisors jumped into action, authorizing internal and external auditors to identify problems and come up with solutions to help the elections department run a better general election. I think what they discovered not only improved outcomes in November but can also help us with future elections. I’d encourage you to read more about the auditors’ findings and board actions at maricopa.gov.
I’ve been pleased with the economic growth of the West Valley. In an editorial for this paper in March, I showed how the county is supporting West Valley growth through, among other things, our Industrial Development Authority (IDA). In October, the IDA funded another important project: the 100-unit Heritage at Surprise, which brings affordable housing to a growing community in District 4. I should also mention the IDA’s support for St. Mary’s Food Bank, which I’ve been involved with for a number of years. By helping fund the Community Kitchen program that’s providing job skills to the homeless, formerly incarcerated, and other low-income individuals, we are making our economy stronger and demonstrating a commitment to serving the underserved.
Speaking of food, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the great turnout at my annual Farm Breakfast in April. West Valley residents were incredibly generous, donating 341 pounds of food. I can’t wait to see you all again next spring. Before the Farm Breakfast, though, don’t forget about the 2019 Prickly Pedal Mountain Bike Race. You can sign up to race through mid-January. Participants will ride a challenging stretch of the Maricopa Trail. The 315-mile loop connecting the county’s regional parks – a project nearly two decades in the making – was just completed this year.
If 2019 is anything like 2018, some of the days might feel long, but the year will fly by, and looking back we’ll hopefully be able to say there were more ups than downs. I wish you and yours a phenomenal holiday season full of days that stretch out in the best possible ways. We’ll get back to work again in the new year.
Clint Hickman’s family owns Hickman’s Family Farms and he serves on the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors for District 4.